Psocid Infestations in Straw Bale Homes

Have you seen a bunch of these in your house? Do you have what you thought might be termintes only to discover that termite treatments don’t do much to battle the infestation? If so, you likely have an infestation of psocids. These tiny little insects are also known as booklice and barklice and are known to feed on old books and other natural materials. It’s rare to have them infest a straw bale house, but it can happen. In most, if not all cases of home infestation, the insects come in on the bales and are already in the straw when you build your house. They take a relatively high level of moisture to live and so keeping your bales dry will almost always end any infestations. Here’s some more information about these insects, how to stop an outbreak, and how to minimize your risk of infestation to start with.

Psocid infestations typically more prevalent in areas with high moisture content and which are often contaminated with microscopic mold. The psocid’s life cycle includes eggs, four nymphal stages, and adult females. Eggs usually take about 21 days to hatch and adults tend to live for between 20 and 100 days. This puts an entire lifecycle somewhere between 40 and 120 days. The sooner you discover an infestation and start to take action the better as females can each lay up to 2 eggs a day during their adult life. That’s a reason for the sudden outbreaks most often noted.

The best way to handle an existing infestation is to dry out the space in question. The psocids take a high level of moisture to survive and so a dry and hot space will quickly solve the problem. Because of the number of eggs that each female can lay, you’ll need to keep the location hot and dry for at least 4 months to be sure of total removal of the problem. It has been said that bringing a room to 120 degrees F for a short period of time can also kill the insects completely. The challenge is getting that 120 degrees F to reach the internal sections of the bale walls as the insulation value is what is so loved about these homes. As we’ve seen in fire testing, it is not easy to transfer high or low temperatures through a bale wall and so the likelihood of achieving a sustained 120 degrees F in the center of a bale wall is low.

To lower your risk of ever getting an infestation I suggest you treat your bales during installation with borax. Just a gentle sprinkle of borax on each course of bales during installation can be very helpful for eliminating any pest problems. I want to be clear here, I have only twice seen this situation actually happen in a bale structure and I do not use borax on any of the homes I build. I make the suggestion only for those homes that are at high risk. For example, homes that will likely experience high moisture levels in the walls due to a lack of dehumidifying system and high relative humidity in the environment. Otherwise, I don’t think the borax is necessary.

46 Responses to Psocid Infestations in Straw Bale Homes

  1. Ruth Caspell Thu, November 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Thank you SO much for mentioning the book lice. I have been wondering what these little guys who are about the size of an ants foot might be. We constructed a strawbale on the west coast – difficult to dry out – and they are all over the window sills and and walls and yes even in my books. Now I can figure out a game plan. Any ideas besides high heat and squishing?

  2. Andrew Morrison Thu, November 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Hi Ruth. I’m glad that you have at least a new knowledge of what they are. I wish I had more to offer about how to get rid of them, other than what I wrote. Hopefully some more informed people, who have solved the problem will respond to the blog post. If you know a good pest control company, it would be worth pointing them in the direction of this blog post and asking them to post a reply. Best of luck to you and please let us all know if you find a solution.

  3. Don Andrews Thu, November 4, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Ruth – I know a person here in Oregon who has (had?) these critters in his strawbale studio. I’m reluctant to give you his name without his consent. However, I will tell him about this article so that he can respond if he chooses.
    We are starting a straw bale house here in Brownsville, OR this winter and will be hosting one of Andrew’s workshops next spring. Mind telling me where you are? We’re always looking for info from experienced s/b builders.
    Peace,
    Don

  4. Ross Holtz Fri, November 5, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    Believe it or not ordinary table salt and pepper work great, salt tends to dry the insects body quickly which they don’t like and the pepper has a burn when they clean their legs again they don’t like the spice, just shake on shelves in drawers and under cabinets…hope this helps good luck

  5. Shauna Barrington Fri, November 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    We had these critters all over the inside of our strawbale house the first summer after we moved in – they were literally over every windowsill, countertop and even the floors! The bales were definitely the source. They appeared once the outdoor temp/humidity rose in July (we live on the east coast of Canada, right on the ocean), and then they disappeared by September/Oct, once we turned our in-floor heating on. Our second summer we only had about 25% as many bugs as the first year, and this summer we’ve had none (finally!).
    The first summer I was so disgusted with them, I had them identified and looked into chemical controls, but in the end I didn’t want to use any pesticides in my home. The only thing I can suggest is heat, and lots of patience – they WILL go away eventually if your bales are dry!
    P.S. Except for this initial problem, I love my strawbale house, and it’s been performing wonderfully – even in this exposed location!

  6. Constance Grotenhuis Sat, November 6, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    You mention the use of borax, in the article on booklice.
    When you sprinkle, do mean powder or a solution in a spray
    this may be a silly question, because you don’t want more moisture in the bales, but I need to be certain.
    thank you,
    You have developed a talent for writing by the way, well done.

  7. Andrew Morrison Sat, November 6, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Thanks Constance. I suggest you sprinkle it dry on the top of each course of bales. You’re right that more moisure would only increase the risk of infestation and rot, even if just a tiny amount. Many as well keep the bales as dry as possible.

  8. Jeremy Sun, November 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    I live in a valley bottom on the East Coast. As it turns out my lot location is a very, very bad place to build a strawbale house. All of the water drained off the hills on either side of me and collected on my lot. I have a ridiculously high water table. As a result I experience exceptionally high levels of humidity in my bale house. A local geotechnical engineer told me that if we removed a few feet of grade on my lot my house would be sitting in a shallow lake.

    I’m not sure if I am happy or sad to hear that other people have or have had the same problems. I have had three years of book lice infestation. The first year, year and a half was the worst. They were everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. It was stressful and still is. In the end I have done the following. I don’t know if these things are good or bad. I am not a builder, in fact I know very little about these things at all. I had my home built for me by a contractor who’d built a couple other bale houses.

    I’m sure Andrew can tell us whether these ideas were smart or silly. Everyone kept telling me hot and dry was the only way to rid myself of them permanently so:
    1) I doubled the amount of heaters in my crawl space. I run them hot and regularly during periods of high humidity. And I added an expensive ventilator that helps move the air out of the crawl space.
    2) I bought very expensive, high quality, large dehumidifiers which I also run regularly.
    3) During dry periods, I will turn up the heat in the house, turn on my dehumidifiers and ventilation system in the hopes that I can draw the moisture out of the bales that may have accumulated there during the wet season (I do this under the assumption that bale walls breathe).

    The book lice numbers have decreased to the point where I can live almost sanely but they are still there. I am resigned to the possibility that if they do not disappear in another year, that I will have to move out and replace my bale walls with conventional ones.

    I wish you the best of luck, Ruth, that your infestation will disappear like Shauna’s, and not linger on and on like mine.

  9. Gerald Bruntman Tue, November 9, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    I have them in my strawbale cabin which is located on the West Coast of Canada. Bottom line is that if the humidity in your house is over 50% and your in the middle of a West Coast winter (i.e. wet, wet, wet), your walls will have accumulation. Period. The carrying capacity of bales is not as good as wood therefore you need to be sure to raise the temperatures in your bale house and have an excellent system of dehumidification. This helps a lot.

    Bad news is that when I go away (which I often do) sometimes for up to four months, they will often have returned. The more I read and talk with building scientists and engineers, the more I think that there just some places that one shouldn’t build with straw (sorry Andrew, just my opinion). Great choice for the wide dry-climate open plains where cereal is grown, maybe a bad idea to import the technique to the wet-climate temperate West Coast rainforest.

  10. Andrew Morrison Tue, November 9, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    What a bummer Jeremy! I think you are doing the right things to dry out your house and that seems to be helping. Another thing to consider is what is happening with the drainage around your home? It sounds like a lot of water is dropped into your valley and that it makes its way down to your house. The high water table is also an issue as it does not allow the water to drain anywhere. Do you know if you have swales cut around your house with drains in them to direct water away? This would be a great idea to try, before tearing out your walls. It could be that there is simply too much moisture in your house and even with the heaters and dehumidifiers, you end up with a constant source of water in and around the house. Just a thought and I hope that helps.

  11. Derek Roff Thu, November 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    There are many varieties of poscids. Those dubbed “book lice” are wingless. Those called “bark lice” usually have wings, but people apply common names without worrying about the details.

    Psocids are not closely related to other creatures that we call “lice”, and they carry the epithet only because they are similar in size. Psocids don’t bite humans, according to authorities. Most of the descriptions that I have seen of psocids in strawbale homes indicate a winged variety.

    Psocids like to eat molds, mildews, and fungi. Like their preferred foods, psocids need moisture to thrive. Using dry bales is the first step to avoiding psocids. Unfortunately, plastering adds a lot of moisture to the surface of the bale, and the plaster itself may contain
    molds that the psocids like. If you can control moisture and mold, then psocids are unlikely to flourish.

    Most of the reports on the SB lists said that the insects disappeared on their own after a couple of weeks, as the bales and plaster dried out. Heat of 45 degC/113 degF will kill most insects found in temperate zones. It’s impractical to try and heat through a strawbale to that temperature, but it’s also probably unnecessary. Any visible psocids are likely to be breeding near the plaster/bale interface, and if they are seen in the living space, they are probably coming out of cracks and openings around windows, doors, ceilings and floor to wall
    joints. Sealing those joints has been reported to help and/or solve the problem. It’s probably impractical to try and heat the entire plaster layer to 45/113 degrees, but I can imagine someone with a severe infestation trying to do it. Local heating and drying of the plaster around any openings might be possible, and might help mitigate severe infestations. In this case, the insulating value of straw bales will make it easier to raise the surface and near-surface temperatures. The best advice seems to be to dry out the plaster as completely as
    possible.

    The good news is that strawbale walls are not very hospitable to psocids. With people building all over the world in varying conditions, with different levels of skill, the number of reported cases of psocids is very small. All the reports that I have seen indicate that the infestation was self-limiting. My conclusion is that strawbale builders don’t need to find a grand strategy to defeat a tenacious pest, but rather a few buildings need treatment of a specific, short-term problem, in order to bring the home into the norm, where psocids aren’t an issue. Depending on the location and conditions, fans, opening windows, dehumidifiers, and heat might all be employed.

    As far as the concern that with application of heat, the psocids will simply move away from heat temporarily, and then return, it’s certainly possible. The goal is to remove enough moisture, so that after the heat is gone, any migratory psocids that do return will find a dry environment that is inhospitable, both to their direct needs and to the molds and fungi on which they like to feed.

    The idea of applying lime or borax between the bales during stacking, as a psocid deterrent, has a similar problem. If conditions favor them, psocids and other insects can choose to live in the large volume of straw, where the lime or borax isn’t present.

    In a few cases, owners reported using insecticides. I can understand the frustration that might lead to such a decision, but attacking a harmless insect by applying something toxic to humans, in the living space, is a risky strategy. Psocids are resistant to some common insecticides, and it is close to impossible to apply a poison below the plaster, where they are feeding and breeding.

    I haven’t heard of persistent psocid problems. If I did, I would suspect a persistent moisture problem, and would thank the psocids for offering themselves as well calibrated, insectoid moisture meters. A prolonged infestation could pinpoint a serious moisture problem, worthy of deeper investigation.

    Good luck,

    Derek Roff

  12. Niki Tischhauser Thu, November 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    I too had problems with these pest the first two spring/early summers in our strawbale home. We live in the Teton Valley of Idaho and have a high volume of winter snow and can have wet spring weather on top of this melting snow so we probably had the right conditions for this infestation. Our summers are very dry however and these bugs seemed to decrease substantially as time went on like the others have said. I still see them occasionally usually crawling in stacks of paper but it’s not nearly at the levels we used to. However, every year we seem to have a wave of different insects, last summer it was springtails and this year it looks like a some sort little brown bug that I haven’t been able to identify. I’m not sure if this related to the strawbale walls or the fact that we spread the leftover straw out over our property to help re-vegetate the areas that were disturbed when we dug the fondation and to keep the weeds down since we weren’t going to be able to landscape right away. It still hasn’t decomposed and has made a real mess. So I wouldn’t advise spreading your leftover straw out around your property!

  13. Andrew Morrison Thu, November 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Glad to hear your psocids are all but gone. The straw spread on the grounds makes for the perfect area for bug habitat, so it could certainly be the cause. Hope they ALL go away soon.

  14. Lynetta Fri, November 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Niki, you don’t say how long the straw on your landscaping has persisted, but you might want to try spraying it with a high quality compost tea. Quality tea (not extract, must be aerobic) will contain lots of good-guy bacteria that will eat the straw and leave beautiful compost behind. Your walls are sealed, so shouldn’t affect them.

  15. Deb Sat, November 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Diatomaceious Earth

    I have used this before for a flea infestion, be sure to use food grade D.E. and if sprinkling around wear a mask, cause it’s not good to breathe in the dust. Hope this helps

    Following Taken from Wiki-Pedia

    Pest control
    Diatomite is also used as an insecticide, due to its physico-sorptive properties. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate[7]. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency, based on Fick’s law of diffusion. This also works against gastropods and is commonly employed in gardening to defeat slugs. However, since slugs inhabit humid environments, efficacy is very low. It is sometimes mixed with an attractant or other additives to increase its effectiveness. Medical-grade diatomite is sometimes used to de-worm both animals and humans. It is most commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and eventually eliminate cockroach and flea infestations. This material has wide application for insect control in grain storage.[8] It has also been used to control bedbug infestations, but this method may take weeks to work

  16. Ruth Caspell Sun, November 14, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    I need to say THANK YOU To all of you who took time to address our book lice problem. Constance, as i sprayed my possible cracks and cranies with water and borax I too thought about how i was raising the moisture content but it sure killed the little vermin – for awhile. Jeremy you helped me realize we need to get on this and spend some serious $$. And I’ll try salt and diatomateous earth. Derek that was such a comprehensive, informative piece you wrote. Oh and to Don & all – I live with Gary just south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island BC Canada.
    250-753-2126 COME VISIT. Hopefully time will either get rid of the little critters or we’ll learn to live together.

  17. Mr Khol Mon, November 22, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    we are thinking on building a straw bale house in south west colorado, does anyone know if colorado dry climate will help with thise critters?

  18. Andrew Morrison Tue, November 23, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    The drier the climate the less you’ll need to worry about psocids. Colorado’s climate should be perfect.

  19. Oscar Fri, December 3, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    Feel free to disregard this proposal if it is not viable. I have been hearing of people dealing with their bed bug problems by heating up their homes to 120-140 degrees for a couple hours which kills the bugs. I was wondering if something like this might help with people’s psocid infestation. Here’s a link to a video showing the treatment being done. I’m not sure how this would work in a straw bale home. Any thoughts?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Os63_DzO4

  20. Andrew Morrison Fri, December 3, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    That is actually the remedy for psocid infestations in conventional construction and can certainly be tried in SB construction. The biggest difficulty I see with this is that the bale walls are so insulative that the heat would not penetrate into the bales, thus the psocids could retreat back into the bales and out wait the heat. As long as there are no long term moisture issues in the bales, the introduction of heat would likely speed up the die off process. If it doesn’t, then a deeper look into potential moisture problems is certainly in order.

  21. dan young Mon, January 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Maybe some desiccant like the packets that come in shoe boxes, and clothes would be a good preventative method. I,ve seen the same stuff on large projects, but i don’t know what they use it for.

  22. Susan Fitzgerald Sun, March 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    I have had the last 2 homes (plus my parents home) in Florida infested with these nasty creatures (psocids). None of the pest control companies will touch them down here, probable due to the low success rate in eradicating them. I appreciate the suggestions above since I am spending several hours each day battling these pests. I have 2 dehumidifiers running 24/7 (creating a huge electric bill) and still cannot get rid of them. The previous year we tried multiple attacks with a smoke dispersed pesticide. I wouldn’t be so determined to rid our homes of these bugs except, despite what all “the authorities” publish, they DO attack humans and DO eat human food. For whatever reason, they are attracted to my dad and myself (I’m adopted too). They have burrowed under our skin leaving huge ugly scars, destroyed meals left out without covering within minutes (had to throw away 2 freshly ordered Dominos pizzas. I have even purchased a bottle of Borax but had not used it yet. I also was able to stop a flea infestation with crushed salt years ago. I am going to have to redo my kitchen and 2 bathrooms since they have destroyed all the particle board they were made out of (approx. 30 years ago). I am hoping to have some success using your suggestions. If they work it will resolve a HUGE problem in my life since these nasty little things will destroy everything in their path with their nasty little but very painful jaws and teeth!

  23. Andrew Morrison Mon, March 14, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Wow. That sounds horrible Susan. I sure hope that the suggestions you read here help you. Is the home you’re talking about straw bale or conventional?

  24. kagrl Sun, July 10, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I live in Florida and just found one on me. It bit me and we couldn’t find what bit me till a few minutes later because it’s hard to see. I identified it online and found this site. I am glad to see that it’s straw that causes it since I pulled out a box with straw umbrella top for a party last night. It was boxed up in the garage for 4 years and this is the only connection to that bug appearing. I thought I picked up lice at the party but it looks nothing like them so thank God for this. Now I have to go look for moisture in my garage and seal it up……I have a leaky pipe in back. borax is good for any kind of bugs…..so are moth balls.

  25. Danielle Wed, July 31, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Hi Andrew, I appreciate that this query has nothing to do with your product but was hoping that your knowledge of straw may be able to answer my maddening problem! I live in Australia & have installed a solomit straw ceiling. The company can’t offer a solution or suggestion to my problem & I was hoping you may be able to help me 🙁 the ceiling dusts like mad. I don’t mean sheds, as straw does till it settles in. It leaves a fine sandy/sawdust all over the house. often in little spray like clusters. I’ve done hours of internet searching. It’s only in 2 main rooms of the house, the main living area & our bedroom….of course. Any suggestions for me? or links I can investigate? We live on the central queensland coast, it’s hot & humid most of the year. We don’t get visible mould on the straw. Thanks for your time. Danielle

  26. Andrew Morrison Wed, July 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    HI Danielle. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about that material to offer much help. Perhaps it is something boring into the panels that is making the dust? It could be that the material was not properly sealed, I suppose, so it is dusting over time. I wish I had an answer or could provide direction fro you. Sorry.

  27. saranya Mon, August 12, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    hi frnds i want to know abt insects and pest in straw bales.. so can u help me frnds?

  28. Andrew
    Andrew Thu, August 29, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Insects and pests are not an issue in straw bale homes in pretty much every case. The article here talks about the one exception I have seen to date and it is a rare occurrence. Bale homes are very resistant to pest and bugs due to their thick plaster coats, especially if lime is used, and the density of the walls. Furthermore, the dry bales make for a very uncomfortable home for any insects and are too tight for any pests to live in.

  29. Judith Tue, October 22, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Had/have them, too. A lot of them first, but fewer and fewer every day. I finished and moved into the house only 2 years ago. I find it easy to be relaxed about them, as they tend to be on the window sills only, and don’t venture into my food supplies or bed sheets. I noticed how they they are becoming fewer, probably because the initially high moisture content of the walls (due to the large amounts of pretty wet-ish mud plaster…) is constantly decreasing. The house is located in Germany, with lots of rain and not too many dry spells in between, but the straw bale construction works well here. I love my straw bale house : )

  30. Ms. Very Stupid Thu, November 14, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Hi! @Susan, if you were bitten you are NOT talking about psocids! Psocids 100% DO NOT feed on humans! You must have had a problem with bed bugs or fleas – totally different animals. These psocids do not like human bodies! Bed bugs, on the other hand, love humans!

  31. Beth Sat, April 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Andrew, I know you use a lime plaster but would it help this problem if once the plaster dried it was covered with a coat of whitewash? My dad used it on our cellar walls and any exterior concrete walls (garage, terrace support wall) instead of paint and renewed every several years (this was in New England). Years later in Agatha Christi’s autobiography I learned about it’s historical use to reduce insect infestations including vs cockroaches.

    I have very successfully used borax vs insects. It’s also great if a pet has worms – as you treat them medically use the borax to cover the areas they have pooped( after picking up) and you will stop a soil infestation in it’s tracks preventing a re-occurrence.

    BUT folks it’s meant to be used as a desiccant. Do NOT make a solution just use the dry borax. If using it around the frames of the windows etc you might want to get the hand soap that Boraxo makes that comes in a handy shaker can and smells very nice.

    Finally re the comment that sprinkling either or both borax and Diatomaceious Earth on top of each course would not work – why not? Both substances are very fine grained and should penetrate some distance into the straw. If you start out with a course on the bottom before you build a course and the shake the dust into the top of each course the bugs are going to have to cross the dust barrier at some point and then you’ve got them. Perhaps a fine spray painter could spray the dust down into a bale especially from the side. The thing to remember tho is this type of insect control takes awhile because it does not kill immediately. So be patietn. You may also need to be persistent depending with the infestation. For example with fleas because of the very short life cycle you lay down your powder along the edges of the room and in any hot spots (pet sleeping area, moist pipes etc). then you do that once a week for at least six weeks and you will have broken the reproductive cycle and no more problem.

  32. Andrew Morrison Thu, May 1, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Great input Beth. Thanks! My concern with using powdered materials is that they cover the top/bottom of the bales, but not the interior or edges. Perhaps the lime in conjunction with the powered materials would be enough.

  33. Jasmine Thu, September 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    We have just completed and moved into our straw bale home near Sydney, Australia, only to notice thousands of these creatures inside our home. We have has quite a bit of rain coming into spring. Like Danielle, we are also experiencing this damp, sawdust-like particles. They are mainly around the inside perimeter lime rendered straw walls, but we are also noticing it develops quite rapidly under beds, lounge, wash baskets – anything that is left on the floor. It is driving me insane and I am concerned as the incidents of asthma and dermatitis are rapidly increasing in our home. Any suggestions or insight would be wonderful!

  34. Andrew
    Andrew Sat, September 27, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    That seems like there may be some leaks in the house that are keeping the psocids in moisture. Otherwise, they should go away as the plaster dries out. If you are noticing an decrease as things get dry and then an increase as the rains come, that may indicate a leak that needs to be identified and fixed. Sorry I don’t have any other good news for you. My hope is that they are coming as a result of the moisture in the plaster and that they will go away as time goes by and that they are not showing an increase with climate conditions.

  35. Arthur Lathouris Sun, October 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Three months ago we moved into a strawbale house in Exeter NSW Australia. In the last last two weeks, since the weather has warmed up, we have also developed a fine ‘dust’ in all the areas described by Jasmine, particularly in our bedroom. Our ‘dust particles’ have legs and move about so we’ve assumed they’re psocids.
    Our internal walls were rendered with our own soil and most have been painted with a clay based earth paint. The rendering process involved a considerable amount of moist soil being applied to the walls. We have left feature ‘soil’ walls in almost every room and these have not been sealed yet. Could the psocids be emerging from these unsealed walls?
    Andrew, you mentioned the use of lime. Do you think a lime paint or limewash might kill them or slow them down while the walls dry out? We have also had some leak problems but not in the worst affected rooms.

  36. Andrew
    Andrew Sun, October 26, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Hi Arthur. Sorry to hear that you have these little guys. If your rendering was completed recently and with ample amounts of water, the chances are good that the bugs will simply die off once the walls fully fry out. If they don’t die off, you may have water intrusion in the house some where that is supplying enough moisture for them to survive. The lime will not likely do much to stop them as they can just retreat into the walls. The best bet is to make sure the walls are dry and stay dry. Let me know how things go as the home fully dries out. Good luck.

  37. Mary Byington Wed, October 14, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    I wish I had read about the borax before building our house in 2013. We moved in in March 2014 and I’ve had psocids ever since. In every room. We used a moisture meter on every single bale and had less than 14% every time. I don’t have leaks anywhere. And I live in Southern Colorado where it is very dry. I’m coming to grips that I will probably always have to live with these little guys. It’s pretty gross.

  38. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Wed, October 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    Hi Mary. This is not normal at all and certainly not something you should resign yourself to living with. Psocids can only live in moist environments, so there must be some source of moisture that is supporting them. If you truly have them in every room, then I recommend that you get a moisture meter and insert the probe into the bales behind every electrical outlet and switch so that you can map out the moisture levels in the walls. Focus on areas of high risk first like under windows and near plumbing. There is absolutely no reason that they should still be in your house. Keep in mind that even if your bales were dry when they went it, they could have been over saturated during plastering and not properly dried out after the plaster work was complete. There could be small roof leaks that are almost impossible to detect except for the psocids. It could be plumbing that is leaking and spraying into the bales (less likely since your issue seems to be the house over). The point is, I am convinced that there is something causing this. I don’t want you to risk damage to your house and I don’t want you to live amongst the bugs. Rest assured, there is a better future!

  39. Nigel Thu, November 5, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    I have a strawbale cabin which has a flea infestation. I fear the fleas have got into the Bales. The Bales are only rendered on the inside on the outside they are wrapped in a breathable membrane and have wood strips covering them Has anyone else had a similar problem? is there any advice how I can get rid of them? THanks!!

  40. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Fri, November 6, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Nigel. I suspect that the issue is related to the lack of plaster on the exterior and the ability for low levels of moisture to get into the bales. I suggest using lime plaster/render on both sides of the wall. This will not only seal things up, but also act as a caustic material for the fleas. Best of success.

  41. Amy Fri, November 27, 2015 at 4:29 am #

    Hello, I live in the uk, in a regular brick house, and in the last 4 weeks have discovered what I think are psocids, initially an infestation in the cluttered kitchen which has now spread upwards into my daughters room, ive spotted them in everyroom and im actually stressing out that much about them that ive ended up on tablets and in therapy, I just cant see an end 🙁 ive had a dehumidifier running for two weeks now, ive sprayed some insecticide in some areas, had pest control in. Pest control wouldn’t treat as we dont have hundreds, im maybe catching less than 10 a day in each room, people are saying they aren’t harmful so dont worry but I literally feel like Im going to have a mental breakdown.

    Thanks for reading this, Amy

  42. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Fri, November 27, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    So sorry to hear of the stress this is causing you Amy. The treatment here in the States for psocids is to wrap the house in plastic and heat it up. The temperature has to go high enough to dry out all of the interior wall spaces. It does sound like you don’t have an infestation as much as a nuisance level of bugs. Not that hearing that will necessarily make you feel any better. The good news is that they will do one of three things. 1. Get worse on their own and require treatment. 2. Get better on their own (go away). 3. Stay the same. Any of these has value as if they get worse, the folks will be willing to treat the house. If they go away on their own, problem solved. If they stay the same, you can speak with the pest control folks and let them know you want to house treated with heat treatment (not chemicals) so that the issue is resolved. They may be unwilling to treat with chemicals because the level of bugs is so small, but a heat treatment poses no risk for the occupants, other than the bugs. You may check any books you have in the house as well because these bugs are also known as “book lice” because they feed on the glue in the binding. Eliminating spaces for them to live is your best approach. The dehumidifying is a good idea as well; however, if their source of moisture is within the walls, what you do in the living space won’t matter as much. Hope this helps. There is an end, that’s the good news. 🙂

  43. Sarah Sat, November 19, 2016 at 12:34 am #

    We also have these little critters in our house after recently completing a strawbale build. We had a very wet winter and now heading into summer I’m hoping they’ll start decreasing in number. We can live with them at the moment but I’m just wondering if they are doing any damage at all? I don’t mind them being there for now, knowing that they will probably die off over the next couple of years. Thanks.

  44. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Tue, November 22, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    They won’t likely do any damage. Just be sure they go away. If they don’t disappear soon, then there may be a leak that is supplying moisture to the bales.

  45. Jess M Sat, March 4, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    Hi, we’ve just moved into our strawbale home in western Victoria, Australia. It is quite a dry climate but we did have a wet winter and mild summer. We have noticed what I think is these barklice. They seem to like areas of natural material (paper, books, paper towel etc) but also damp areas like the toilet bowl and our bathroom vanities/baths. Do you think it’s likely they’ll go away as they seem to be increasing since we’ve moved in and been using water. They also seem to be fond of white areas.

  46. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Mon, March 6, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Jess. If they are indeed psocids, then they will go away after the moisture in the walls from plastering dries out unless you have a source for moisture in the walls that they are using to stay alive. If you continue to see them after a month or so, you should start thinking about checking the walls with a moisture meter in the back of electrical outlets, etc. to make sure there is no ongoing leak.

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